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Barry Cox snapped this photo of Jeremy Johnson at the end of a week in the wilderness. His camp and gear stolen, Johnson wore the same gear all week long. Photo courtesy Jeremy Johnson


Wilderness two days before. He fig- ured Jeremy would be all right. No stranger to the wilderness, Johnson had packed well despite the 10-day forecast of sunny weather. But where the trail topped out


above 8,000', the snow blew sideways and the wind searched with cold fin- gers. Jeremy Johnson, on a solo hunt in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, had left his gear under a tarp and spike- camped in his Gore-Tex bivy sack (sleeping bag cover) overlooking an alpine basin. Mindful of bears, he caught his food in a tree a few hun- dred yards from the gear. On opening day, he glassed two


rams and a small herd of elk. That was when the weather turned. By midday, a freak late-summer storm held the mountains in an icy grip. “The high winds and sideways snow chilled my soaking wet body to the bone. I ar- rived at my gear stash at 9:00 p.m. and was really looking forward to setting up the tent, building a fire and getting into some dry clothes.” Something didn’t look right. “I flipped the tarp back to find nothing


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there but my bow target, and the Wilderness Athlete hat I wore the day before.” Ten miles from the nearest road, thieves had stolen his tent, bedding, clothes and spare bow. With the light all but gone from the western sky, and snow that blew on 40-mph winds, he needed to make shelter fast. From the top of the ridge, he found he had cell phone reception. He made a call to Barry and left the message that his camp had been stolen, but that he would stay to hunt. “I have learned to embrace adver-


sity,” Jeremy said later. “After losing our home to a fire and after a battle with cancer, I don’t want to waste time whining and complaining about my situation, or giving up, instead I want to milk every last lesson I can out of adversity and turn it into a growing experience.” An auto mechanic by trade, world-


class certified by General Motors, Johnson relishes a challenge. Hard as he works at the Murray and Holt dealership in Bend, he works harder at elk hunting. The guys that stole his camp had


left him little more than his Badlands 4500 pack, the soaking wet set of Sit- ka Gear camo clothes on his back, his Lathrop & Sons boots and his hidden store of food. Jeremy didn’t waste his strength with anger. All year he had saved for and planned this trip. All he could do now was hope to survive it. “I started hiking off the hill to find a place to make a shelter.” Down the slopes, near a lake, he saw two tents and walked in. The two hunters said they were headed out in the morning, but they suggested Jeremy take shel- ter with them overnight. All night, Jeremy struggled to stay


warm with no sleeping bag, while wind and snow buffeted the tent. In the morning, he parted company with his hosts. They headed down moun- tain and Jeremy headed back into the wilds with his bow.


Resupply On the trail back up the moun-


tain, Barry Cox passed a dozen other hunters headed downhill to escape the weather. High on the ridge, where Barry had left Jeremy, he deposited


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